The Way of the Wolf: Kayaking Through the Place of Spirits


Remote wilderness, big seas, strong currents, huge tides, inhospitable weather, crawling with polar bears… and stunningly gorgeous. All of these descriptions fit the Labrador Peninsula. The coastline—spanning from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec to Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador—is rarely paddled, though most notably by legendary kayakers Nigel Foster and Kristen Nelson 20 years ago.

Frank Wolf

Departing shortly after summer solstice, I’ll be joining the team of Justine Curgenven, J.F. Marleau and Larry Chomyn to take on this epic 800-kilometre journey. The trip has been a dream of Justine and J.F.’s for years, and I was honoured to be asked to join. Larry is an incredible paddler with an amazing expedition resume of his own. I’ll learn a ton from these elite kayakers.

We’re calling the journey the “Tongait Expedition. ‘Tongait’ means ‘place of spirits’ in Inuktitut, where the roiling seas and arcing Torngat Mountains have remained largely unchanged for millennia, rife with mystery and a rich cultural history hidden beneath a veil of stark beauty. 

Frank Wolf

Besides the technical paddling and rugged landscape, another logistical hurdle will be polar bears. These apex marine predators are predominant in this landscape, with this area holding the densest population of their kind on earth. The last survey, taken in 2018, counted over 2000 of these animals in this region. For this reason, we’ll have a night watch, in addition to an alarm fence, so we won’t be surprised by the critters as we catch our z’s. Besides filming, photographing and writing about the journey, we’ll also be carrying out some citizen science by piloting a polar bear sighting/encounter app for Polar Bears International

For the curious gear aficionados out there, here’s a rundown of the equipment we’ll be using (and abusing) as we paddle our way around the coast.

Frank Wolf

For our paddling set-up, we’ll be using rugged Boreal Design Epsilon kayaks, which are built to withstand rocky shores and surf landings in the most unforgiving of environments. In order to get them up to Kangiqsualujjuaq for the start, we had them shipped ahead of time by Air Inuit Cargo, as this Inuit community is only accessible by air or water. Paddle-wise, the team will be using a variety of Werner Paddles to propel our crafts—they are light, strong, tried-and-true carbon-fibre things of beauty. 

Frank Wolf

We’ll be wearing Kokatat Odyssey drysuits and Kokatat Neptune Life Vests on the water for all-day comfort and safety. North Water Sea link tow lines and inflatable paddle floats will ensure team safety on the water in case any of us go in the drink, and Seals Shocker Sprayskirts will keep the water out in the roughest of conditions.

Our supplies will be kept dry inside a selection of SealLine dry bags, with an accessible SealLine Discovery Deck bag holding our essential gear to quickly deploy camp when we land. Additionally, Loksak bags will keep our food dry and smells down to dissuade any gourmand bears from coming into our camp. For communication and updated weather reports, we’ll be equipped with ICOM IC-M25 VHF radios, which can be kept powered up via USB link to our solar/battery bank portable charging system—the compact and fast-charging Big Blue 28w solar charger.

Frank Wolf

In camp, to stay dry and warm on those stormy coastal evenings, we’ll be bundled in Fjallraven Bergtagen Eco Shell Lite jackets and pants, and kept cozy in our Fjallraven Keb padded hoodie and Showers Pass waterproof socks. Tucked in to the patter of a typical Labrador deluge, my tent-mate Larry and I will be snugged away reading Foster’s On Polar Tides inside our virtually-indestructible Hilleberg Staika 4-season tent, nestled in Thermarest Questar -6 C sleeping bags atop airy Thermarest Neo Air Xtherm sleeping pads.

For food, we’ll be eating delicious and quick-to-prepare dinners by Happy Yak, as well as custom concoctions expertly created by gourmet camp chef Justine. Unparalleled in its ability to both boil water quickly and simmer like a Michelin-star gas stove, our hot meals will be cooked up with an MSR Dragonfly. Daytime snacks will be fortified by tasty Hornby Organic Energy bars to keep us going all day long, and water purification will be easily done with the handy MSR Trailshot water filter.

Frank Wolf

I’ll be sharing a daily haiku from each camp during this journey via a live InReach map tracking page—a moment or essence of the day captured in prose. Follow the team’s adventures and progress through this wild and windswept land starting June 23rd at 


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